Japan is a highly mountainous country with a large number of mountains. And we all have heard of Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain. But how many mountains are in Japan? Here’s a detailed answer!
The total number of mountains in Japan is somewhere between 16,667 and 18,032. It’s a range and not a definite number because the answer depends on how you count Japan’s mountains. Let’s look at some examples below.
The Japanese Alpine Club, for instance, says that there are 16,667 mountains in Japan. But this number only includes mountains that are mentioned on topographical maps with a scale of 1:25,000
In the Japanese book “Complete Guide to Mountains in Japan” (日本山名総覧) there are 18,032 mountains. The book features 31 mountains that were recorded on topographical maps before but have been deleted by now. Besides them, it also includes an additional 1,334 mountains.
There’s another Japanese book called the “Encyclopedia of Mountains in Japan” (三省堂日本山名事典). This one has a total of 25,100 entries. However, the book does not only include mountains, but also mountain ridges, mountain ranges, and their peaks.
That’s why the aforementioned number of 16,667 to 18,032 mountains in Japan seems to be more accurate. Just keep in mind that this number may not include unnamed and/or smaller mountains. And so the real number of mountains in Japan might be even higher.
Now that we have covered your basic question let’s take a closer look at Japan’s mountains and mountain ranges. Read on to learn about Japan’s tallest mountains, the 100 most famous mountains, and the 3 holy mountains in Japan.
The Tallest Mountains in Japan
Mt. Fuji – 3,776 m (12,389 ft)
Japan’s tallest mountain is Mt Fuji (富士山) with an elevation of 3,776.24 meters (12,389 ft). It is also Japan’s highest volcano and yes, it is still an active volcano. The mountain’s last eruption was in December 1707.
Mt. Fuji is the second-highest volcano that is located on an island in Asia. And it is the seventh-highest peak of an island in the world. It also ranks 35th on the list of Earth’s most topographical prominent summits.
The mountain is more or less right in the center of Honshu, Japan’s largest island. And it spans over two prefectures: Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture. Japan’s capital, Tokyo, is about 100 kilometers further north-east of Fujisan. But on a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo.
In June 2013 Mt. Fuji became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it has been added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site. I’m sure you agree that Fuji’s snowcapped symmetrical cone is Japan’s most iconic symbol.
Mt. Kita – 3,193 m (10,476 ft)
Mt. Kita (北岳) is Japan’s second tallest mountain and the highest mountain in Japan’s Southern Alps. It is located in Yamanashi Prefecture and has an elevation of 3,193 meters or 10,476 feet.
The difficulty of climbing Mt. Kita is similar to Mt. Fuji. However, there are fewer hikers and its terrain and wildlife are more diverse. Along the mountain’s southeastern and northern slopes you can see many alpine plants.
Another highlight of climbing Mt. Kita is the view of Mt. Fuji. From the summit, you have one of the most most beautiful views of Japan’s tallest mountain.
Mt. Hotaka – 3,190 m (10,466 ft)
Mt. Hotaka (穂高岳) is Japan’s third tallest mountain with an elevation of 3,190 meters or 10,466 feet. It is located in the prefectures of Gifu and Nagano. And it is the tallest mountain in Japan’s Northern Alps.
The mountain is part of the Chubu-Sangaku National Park. The park and its remote mountainous highland valley Kamikochi are very popular hiking destinations. You can see Mt. Hotaka from anywhere in Kamikochi.
If you want to hike Mt. Hotaka you need to be well-equipped with alpine climbing equipment, because it is one of Japan’s rockiest mountains. Once you’ve made it to the top you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable view, though.
List of the Top 10 Tallest Mountains In Japan
Below you can find a list of the top 10 tallest mountains in Japan.
|1||Mt. Fuji||3,776 m
|2||Mt. Kita||3,193 m
|3||Mt. Hotaka||3,190 m
|4||Mt. Aino||3,189 m
|5||Mt. Yari||3,180 m
|6||Mt. Warusawa||3,141 m
|7||Mt. Akaishi||3,120 m
|8||Mt. Karasawa||3,110 m
|9||Mt. Kitahotaka||3,106 m
|10||Mt. Obami||3,101 m
The total number of 21 mountains with an elevation of 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) or more in Japan. The tallest of Japan’s 3,000ers is Mt. Fuji with an elevation of 3,776 meters. The shortest of Japan’s 3,000ers is Mt. Hijiri (聖岳) with an elevation of 3,013 m (9,885 ft).
100 Most Famous Mountains in Japan
In Japan, there is a very popular book: One Hundred Mountains of Japan (日本百名山 Nihon Hyaku-meizan). It was written by Kyuuya Fukada in 1964.
The mountaineer has climbed many mountains in Japan. And he selected 100 celebrated mountains based on different criteria and published them in his book. The book became widely known as it is one of the favorite books of Japan’s emperor, Naruhito.
Nowadays, Kyuuya’s selection is widely considered as Japan’s most famous and most beautiful peaks. And many Japanese have set the goal to climb all of the 100 mountains mentioned in his book.
Usually, the list is divided by region. Some of the top mountains he mentions are Mt. Asahi, Mt. Yotei, and Mount Rishiri in Hokkaido Prefecture. Mount Chokai, Mount Iwate, and Mount Hayachine in the Tohoku Region.
In the Kanto Region, there are Mount Nikko-Shirane, Mount Asama and Mount Azumaya. And in the Chubu Region, the top mountains include the 3 tallest mountains Mt. Fuji, Mount Hotaka, and Mount Kita.
And last but not least in western Japan, you have Mount Ishizuchi, Mount Miya-no-ura, Daisen, and more.
So if you’re interested in hiking in Japan I highly recommend you to read his book. You can find it on Amazon for just $25.
The Three Holy Mountains of Japan
In Japan, there are 3 sacred mountains that are believed to have a particular special power. The three holy mountains are Mt. Fuji, Mt. Haku, and Mt. Tate.
In Japan, they are called Nihon San Reizan (日本三霊山) – Japan’s three holy mountains. And they have been sacred places of worship for ages.
All 3 mountains can be climbed, but it might not be an easy hike.
Mt. Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain, Japan’s most famous mountain, and it is also one of Japan’s three holy mountains. Its special power is volcanic power.
Since the time of the Ainu Mt. Fuji has been considered a sacred place. And you will know why once you’ve seen it with your own eyes. There’s just something magical about this mountain that can’t be described.
Mt. Haku (白山), the “White Mountain“, is 2,702 meters (8,865 ft) high. And it is located in the prefectures of Gifu and Ishikawa. Haku-san’s special power is water.
The mountain has been worshiped as a god of water because it is the source of three rivers the Kuzuryu River, the Nagara River, and the Tedori River.
It is also still an active volcano, but it last erupted in 1659.
Mt. Tate (立山), also known as just Tateyma, is the last of Japan’s 3 sacred mountains. It’s 3,015 meters (9,892 ft) high and located in Toyama Prefecture. The mountain is believed to have the power of the spirits of the dead.
Tateyama used to be a place where Buddhist monks underwent spiritual training. And it has been worshiped as a place where the spirits of the departed come back.
Since 1600 it has been a popular destination for pilgrims. And nowadays many visitors come for its onsen and to see the mountain’s famous Jigokudani (Hell Valley).
Major Mountain Ranges in Japan
The Japanese Alps (日本アルプス) are considered Japan’s most prominent mountain range. It consists of the Northern Alps, also known as the Hida Mountains. The Central Alps, also known as the Kiso Mountains. And the Southern Alps, which are knowns as the Akaishi Mountains.
Northern Alps – Hida Mountains
The Nothern Alps, aka the Hida Mountains (飛騨山脈), span over the prefectures of Nagano, Toyama, Gifu. And they even touch a little bit of Niigata Prefecture.
The highest mountain of the Northern Alps is Mount Hotakadake (穂高岳). It is 3,190 meters (10,470 ft) tall and consists of 5 peaks.
Mount Ontake (御嶽山) is another famous mountain. It is Japan’s second-highest volcano with an elevation of 3,067 meters (10,062 ft). And it is well known as an active volcano. The mountains last eruption was in 2014.
In Japanese, they are known as Kita Alps (北アルプス)
Central Alps – Kiso Mountains
The Central Alps, aka the Kiso Mountains (木曽山脈), are located in Nagano Prefecture. In Japanese, they are called the Chuo Alps (中央アルプス).
Mout Kisokoma (木曽駒ヶ岳) is the tallest peak of this mountain range. It is most often referred to as Kisokoma and it is 2,956 meters (9,698 ft) tall.
Mt. Hoken (宝剣岳) and Mt. Utsugi (空木岳) are other famous mountains of this mountain range. Hoken-dake is 2,931 meters (9,616 ft) tall and Utsugi-dake is 2,864 meters (9,396 ft) high.
Southern Alps – Akaishi Mountains
The Southern Alps, also known as the Akaishi Mountains (赤石山脈) stretch over Nagano Prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture, and Shizuoka Prefecture.
The highest mountain of the Southern Alps is Mount Kita (北岳) with an elevation of 3,193 meters (10,476 ft). It is shortly followed by Mount Aino (間ノ岳), which is 3,189.13 meters (10,463.0 ft) high.
Mount Senjou (仙丈ヶ岳) and Mount Notori (農鳥岳) are two other mountains that are higher than 3,000 meters. They are 3,032.6 meters (9,949 ft) and 3,026 meters (9,928 ft) high.
The Southern Alps are also known as Minami Alps (南アルプス).
Prefectures With The Most Mountains in Japan
Hokkaido is the prefecture with the most mountains. There are about 1,383 mountains in Hokkaido. After that comes Niigata Prefecture with 965 mountains, and then we have Nagano Prefecture with 903 mountains.
Hokkaido Prefecture is well known as Japan’s nature paradise. And it is popular among nature lovers from all over the world. It is also one of the best places to encounter Japan’s wildlife including bears, foxes, and orca whales.
Niigata Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture are one of the most popular skiing and hiking destinations in Japan. So popular that literally all of my students and clients tell me “I was skiing in Yuzawa” or “I went hiking in Kamikochi”.
Conclusion – How Many Mountains Are in Japan?
As we have seen the total number of mountains in Japan depends on how you count them. But it is somewhere between 16,667 and 18,032 – excluding smaller and unnamed mountains.
Japan’s tallest and most famous mountain is the iconic Mt. Fuji with 3,776 meters. It is also one of Japan’s most popular and most crowded hiking destination in summer.
Some of the best places to go hiking in Japan are Hokkaido, the nature paradise in the north. And the Japanese Alps that stretch over Nagano, Toyama, Gifu, and Niigata Prefecture.
Japan’s smallest mountain is Mout Hiyori, by the way. It’s just a cute little 3 meters (9.8 ft). And there is even an artificial “mountain” with an elevation of 0 meters. Its name is “Mount” Ogata Fuji. Not sure whether you can consider it a mountain, though…
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Resources & Links
- One Hundred Mountains of Japan (Translation of Kyuuya Fukada’s Book)
- 日本山名総覧―1万8000山の住所録 (Complete Guide to Mountains in Japan)
- 三省堂日本山名事典 (Japanese Mountains Encyclopedia)
- 日本の山を数えてみ (I Tried To Count Japan’s Mountains, )
- jac.or.jp (The Japanese Alpine Club)
- wikipedia.org (List of Three-Thousanders in Japan)
- wikipedia.org (List of Japanese Mountains & Hills By Height)
- peakvisor.com (Japanese Mountains & Moutain Ranges)
- wikipedia.org (Japanese Alps)
- wikipedia.org (Mount Fuji)
- quora.com (How Many Mountains Are in Japan?)
- wikipedia.org (100 Famous Japanese Mountains)
- worldatlas.com (The Tallest Mountains in Japan)
- nippon.com (Five Japanese Mountains)